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Keywords:

  • spinal cord injury;
  • blood–spinal cord barrier;
  • rodents;
  • dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI;
  • focal enhancement;
  • diffuse enhancement;
  • normal appearing white matter;
  • Basso–Beattie–Bresnahan (BBB) score

Abstract

After a primary traumatic injury, spinal cord tissue undergoes a series of pathobiological changes, including compromised blood–spinal cord barrier (BSCB) integrity. These vascular changes occur over both time and space. In an experimental model of spinal cord injury (SCI), longitudinal dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI (DCE-MRI) studies were performed up to 56 days after SCI to quantify spatial and temporal changes in the BSCB permeability in tissue that did not show any visible enhancement on the post-contrast MRI (non-enhancing tissue). DCE-MRI data were analyzed using a two-compartment pharmacokinetic model. These studies demonstrate gradual restoration of BSCB with post-SCI time. However, on the basis of DCE-MRI, and confirmed by immunohistochemistry, the BSCB remained compromised even at 56 days after SCI. In addition, open-field locomotion was evaluated using the 21-point Basso–Beattie–Bresnahan scale. A significant correlation between decreased BSCB permeability and improved locomotor recovery was observed. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.